Iowa field hockey headed to Big Ten title game

For the second straight year, the Hawkeyes advance to the conference championship game after downing Northwestern 2-1.

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Iowa field hockey headed to Big Ten title game

Iowa players celebrate a goal during a field hockey game between Iowa and Columbia at Grant Field on Sunday, September 8, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Lions, 3-1.

Iowa players celebrate a goal during a field hockey game between Iowa and Columbia at Grant Field on Sunday, September 8, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Lions, 3-1.

Hannah Kinson

Iowa players celebrate a goal during a field hockey game between Iowa and Columbia at Grant Field on Sunday, September 8, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Lions, 3-1.

Hannah Kinson

Hannah Kinson

Iowa players celebrate a goal during a field hockey game between Iowa and Columbia at Grant Field on Sunday, September 8, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Lions, 3-1.

Robert Read, Assistant Sports Editor

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For the second-straight year, Iowa field hockey is headed to the Big Ten title game.

The No. 7 Hawkeyes defeated No. 14 Northwestern, 2-1, on Nov. 9 at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.

The seventh-seeded Wildcats struck first with a goal in the second minute of the first quarter on a penalty corner. Northwestern held that lead for the rest of the quarter, until the second-seeded Hawkeyes dominated in the second period.

In the 19th minute, sophomore Makenna Maguire scored her second goal of the season on an assist from Maddy Murphy to tie the match at 1.

“My teammates gave me a great pass, and I finished it,” Maguire said in a release. “We kept the momentum going. We knew it was going to come. We had great opportunities, and I just happened to finish it.”

Only minutes later, sophomore Ciara Smith put the Hawkeyes on top, 2-1, with her second goal of the season. Sophomore Leah Zellner was credited with her first career assist on was the game-winning goal.

Smith became the 11th Hawkeye to score numerous goals this season, with her latest perhaps being the biggest one yet.

“We were a little out of sorts there in the first quarter,” head coach Lisa Cellucci said in a release. “We found a way to get an equalizer on the board. That second goal was fantastic. We worked our way and got back to playing our game in the second and third quarters.”

Iowa held the lead for the rest of the game, matching the 2-1 score of the Hawkeyes’ regular-season victory over the Wildcats.

The Hawkeye defense stepped up late in the game and secured a trip to the conference title game.

“We needed to get back to playing disciplined individual defense and as a unit,” Cellucci said in a release. “We had everybody hunker down. We had been training in those situations with a pulled goalkeeper all year, and they executed it beautifully.”

The victory improved Iowa’s record to 15-4 on the year, surpassing last season’s victory number.

The Hawkeyes will take on fifth-seeded Penn State in the Big Ten title game at 1 p.m. Nov. 10, an opportunity to avenge a loss in the championship game last season and add another achievement to what has been a remarkable season.

“It feels great [to get back to the Big Ten Championship game],” Cellucci said in a release. “It’s one of our goals, and we have an opportunity to achieve another goal tomorrow. I am really proud and excited for this team to see what we do tomorrow.”

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